My lesson with Patrick Hession

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Mikester, Apr 28, 2007.

  1. Mikester

    Mikester New Friend

    Nov 9, 2003
    I told Tony I would post a summary of my lesson with Patrick Hession. So here goes...

    I have been interested in studying with a professional lead trumpeter for some time. Had a one time lesson with Wayne Bergeron in 2005, and realized so much can be gained from a seasoned pro’s experiences. Discussed this desire with a local pro jazz player. He knows and recommended either Roger Ingram or Patrick Hession. Like many of you, I am familiar with each of these two’s recorded work. After reviewing both player’s webpages, I found Patrick’s home is near where I travel for work occasionally. So, I contacted him regarding a lesson and made an appointment. The lesson took place in Patrick’s living room.

    I explained to Patrick that my immediate goals were 1) playing exactly in time and 2) phrasing. I have enough range for the gigs I play, so that was not top on my list. Hope would be to work more on that after addressing the first two goals. Fortunately, Patrick’s book covers a lot about breathing and playing in time.

    When I arrived, Patrick had not played yet that day, so he started his warm-up while I was there. He began with a mute in, which I thought was due to the close proximity of his neighbors. But, Patrick told me he liked the resistance during the first few notes of the day. Since I brought a copy of his book, we opened it to “Exercise #1 - Warm-Up / Breathingâ€. For those of you who have read or use his book, he describes how he has used the same warm-up for years. It is great to discuss with an author of a technique text what is meant by some of the content.

    I have been trained to breath deeply toward the abdominal muscles, but keep the shoulders level and relaxed. Patrick raises his shoulders to allow the lungs to fill all the way to the top. Similar to Bobby Shew’s method, I was told. Believe Roger gives Bobby credit for the same. Before we began the initial breath, Patrick turned on the metronome and set it to 60 bpm. The inhale of “Exercise #1†is 7 beats (7 seconds). Always subdividing the beat into sixteenth notes. This has helped me already, since I never really planned out when to breath. Just took a big breath some time before I was required to play. Patrick knows exactly how many beats before he plays and where within that beat for each entrance he begins his breath. This technique should really aid in my desire to play exactly in time. Also, he explained air intake to be like “yawningâ€. I have used the syllable “ko†for years to keep my throat open. “Yawning†seems more open.

    Patrick’s breath capacity is amazing! We would breath at a constant rate for 7 beats. Even though we were breathing at close to the same rate, I was completely full before 5 beats. Patrick went all the way through 7 beats. To give you some idea of the difference in our sizes, Patrick is about 5’7†medium-athletic. I am 6’6†large frame. So, I was shocked at how much more air he could intake.

    Other items he stressed in the exercises were the breath attacks versus the tongue attacks. As we worked on the breath attack, Patrick demonstrated his mastery of “whisper tonesâ€. I have heard of them, but have not witnessed a demonstration. Patrick can begin a note that is so faint it is barely audible. Hence their name. He begins these notes and crescendos to double forte and back to whisper. Tremendous control.

    We covered the first half of the book; which contains: breathing, relaxation, isometrics / develop center, relaxing center, refocusing center, lip slurs, ride the air stream, and riding the center. After that, same type of exercises, but more advanced. After we got through “riding the centerâ€, Patrick said now practice other stuff daily.

    After we completed the formal lesson using the book I began asking other questions. One was regarding his students. He has some high school students who want to have range like him. He has them work on Arban’s and Clarke’s methods. After they have those books under their fingers, he will begin them on range. He plays so many different styles and gigs that he has many books, charts, and sheets out in the practice area. He played a difficult “legit†solo piece for me. He is quite comfortable in the big band and “legit†settings.

    Before now, I had heard Patrick about once a year during his 5 years with Maynard. I had to ask questions about being on the band. As we talked, Patrick would play different parts from different charts. One thing I keep noticing was how my ear seemed to “jump†each time he played G or high C. Since he hits notes so much in the center now, his horn resonates more than when I play. He also explained his horn, Monette MF, “rings like heckâ€. My ear was catching all the overtones. His playing in the note center was really demonstrated during one of the exercises later in his book. Exercise #17 is for “glissandosâ€. One of the patterns is quarter notes starting at middle C - high C - middle C - high C - middle C - high C - low C - high C- low C - double high C - low C - triple high C - low C hold. Tempo is 60 bpm in cut time! After playing it, Patrick says, the triple C is really only with his chops; not supported like it would be in a performance. Each note was on the money!

    Before I left, I told him my long term dream is to play Maynard’s solo on “Danny Boyâ€. Patrick has recently performed this, so he took out the music and played it beginning to end. No misses or cracked notes. What a treat for me.

    By the way, my ears were ringing most of the 3 hour drive home. He has serious power to use when he chooses.

    Patrick’s schedule is full for a few weeks. So, I will be working on the first half of the book. After ITG, his schedule will free up a little and we will set-up another lesson then.

    Looking forward to it!
  2. TrentAustin

    TrentAustin Fortissimo User

    Oct 28, 2003
    KC MO
    Hey Mikester,

    Great notes of the lesson!

    Is Patrick still playing the MF Prana? did you get to play on it?
  3. Mikester

    Mikester New Friend

    Nov 9, 2003
    I did not get to play Patrick's horn nor bent-slap-PRANA mouthpiece.
    He did tell me that Dave is making him a new horn with the new Monette in-house made valves.

    Trent, if you and I lived closer, I would be writing about my lesson with Trent Austin!

    Looking forward to trying out some new toys with you at ITG!
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2007
  4. stchasking

    stchasking Forte User

    Jun 11, 2006
    Thankyou for the report.
    Would you say he has developed the muscles in his face like a body builder?

  5. brian moon

    brian moon Forte User

    Patrick uses a facial flex to work out with.
  6. Eclipsehornplayer

    Eclipsehornplayer Forte User

    Sep 14, 2005
    Metro Detroit
    Great report!

    Sounds like he really did you some good and that is what your lesson should always be about!

    It must have been something to listen to him at point blank range!

    Thanks for the post!
  7. Mikester

    Mikester New Friend

    Nov 9, 2003
    It was a productive lesson. I went there with a plan. Figured this out after my lesson with Wayne. That one was more awe of what he could play than what I wanted to learn.

    Regarding Patrick's facial muscles, I would not say they are developed like a body builder. Have seen the flex device on his webpage. We did not discuss it though.

    He is very aware of his posture when playing. Constantly changing the amount of bend in his knees to address tension in the back and chest. Some may recall he discussed this at ITG 2006. After listening to me, he recommended I begin bending my knees more at the top of the staff.

    Noticed that like other players with great range (Bill Chase, Harry James, etc...), he sets his chops with his tongue before placing the mouthpiece on them.

    He has huge power now. Seems much stronger than when he started with MF's band. His high range is controlled and usable at reasonable volumes. But when he pushed on the gas, sharing a music stand in a living room was a little too close.
  8. MPM

    MPM Pianissimo User

    Nov 10, 2003
    Dave Monette brought an MF Prana trumpet to the Blue Note last summer for Patrick to try, one with those new valve clusters. Pat's still waiting for that new axe?

    BTW, Patrick did sound just a bit more centered on that new horn, and we could hear him better on it.
  9. BergeronWannabe

    BergeronWannabe Piano User

    Feb 6, 2007
    Could you share a little of that with me/us? Thanks, great post about Patrick, btw.
  10. BergeronWannabe

    BergeronWannabe Piano User

    Feb 6, 2007
    I'd love to hear about your lesson with Wayne, please?

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